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Art Institute of Chicago – tickets, what to expect, timings, what to see


The Art Institute of Chicago has the most extraordinary Impressionist collection outside of Paris.

It is the only museum in the world to be continuously top-ranked by TripAdvisor for four years.

The iconic institution boasts a treasure trove of over 300,000 masterpieces spanning 5,000 years of human history.

A curated symphony of visual delights, this sacred art institution is one of the most prestigious in the world.

It fosters the artistic creations of some of the greatest, unrivaled minds in the history of human art, ranging from Monet to Picasso.

This article covers everything you must know before booking tickets to the Art Institute in Chicago

What to Expect at the Chicago Art Museum

One of the most soul-stirring art collections of the Modern World, the Chicago Art Museum puts you in an intimate space with some of the greatest brushstrokes ever made on canvas.

From the isolated, contemplative cityscapes of Edward Hopper to the ephemeral moments in nature crafted by Claude Monet, each canvas in the museum is a portal to raw emotion.

Look deep into the eyes of the Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait and try to glimpse the flame in the eyes of a tormented soul who chose to see the most vibrant beauty in the world.

Trace the evolution of art through the ages, from the classical grandeur of Greek sculptures to the avant-garde brilliance of modern installations.

Engage in thought-provoking conversations with knowledgeable guides and unravel the stories behind the canvases.

Witness art rising from the hands of some of the greatest masters who have passed us in the last 150 years, such as Salvador Dali, Georges Seurat, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Grant Wood, and many more.

Ticket Price
Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Fast-Pass Ticket US$40
Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide US$127

Where to book tickets

Tickets for the Art Institute of Chicago are available online and at the Museum doors.

Online ticket prices tend to be cheaper than tickets at the attraction.

When you buy online, you can avoid the long queues at the ticket counters. 

Because Art Institute Chicago sells limited tickets for special exhibitions, they may sell out during peak days.

Booking early helps avoid last-minute disappointments.

How do online tickets work

Visit the ticket booking page for Chicago Art Institute, select the preferred date, time slot, and number of tickets, and buy the tickets immediately.

Once you purchase tickets, they get delivered to your email address.

There is no need to get printouts of the ticket. 

Show the e-ticket on your smartphone at the entrance and walk in.

Please carry a valid ID with you.

Art Institute Chicago ticket prices

For Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Fast-Pass Ticket, an adult ticket for all ages between 18 and 64, costs US$40.

Youths aged between 15 and 18 can gain access at a discounted price of US$34.

Seniors above 64 years of age and Students with ID (any age) can also gain entry for US$34.

Children up to 14 years of age can enter for free.

For Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide, an adult ticket for all ages above 18 costs US$127.

Youths between 10 and 17 years are charged US$112 for entry.

Tickets for children up to 9 are priced at US$91.

Art Institute of Chicago tickets

There are three ways to experience the Art Institute of Chicago – book a self-guided tour, a guided tour with a local art expert, or book a combo ticket, which gets you access to both the art museum and 360 Chicago, a nearby observatory.

Skip-the-line Art Institute of Chicago ticket

This self-guided tour ticket gets you to access both the permanent collection and the regularly rotating temporary exhibitions.

You will skip the ticketing lines, but you will still have to go through security checks.

With this ticket, you can also join the free guided tour, starting at noon and 2 pm.

You can download the free mobile app to explore the museum and listen to audio tours in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.

The museum is accessible by wheelchair and provides other services such as Wi-Fi.

For a full refund, cancel this ticket at least 24 hours before your planned visit.

Tickets price

Adult ticket (18 to 64 years): US$40
Seniors ticket (65+ years): US$34
Youth ticket (15 to 17 years): US$34
Student ticket (with valid ID): US$34
Child ticket (up to 14 years): Free entry

Guided tour of Art Institute of Chicago

Experience some of the world’s most famous art pieces on a guided tour of the Art Institute of Chicago.

You will get to enter the museum through a special entrance, skipping all the queues.

A trained and certified art expert leads this two-and-a-half-hour tour.

The guide shares expert information on the collection and the museum’s history and hidden gems.

If you opt for the semi-private tour, you will go around the museum with a maximum of eight participants.

You can also opt for a fully private tour.

Guests that require wheelchairs can only be part of the private tour.

The tour lasts for 2.5 hours.

Ticket Price

Semi-private tour:

Adults (18+ years): US$127

Youths (10-17 years): US$112

Child Ticket (up to 9 years): US$91

Private tour:

Adults (18+ years): US$286

Youths (10-17 years): US$112

Child Ticket (up to 9 years): US$91

If you are also planning to visit 360 Chicago, check out this combo, which includes access to the art museum and the observatory. It is a great way to score a 10% discount.

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How to reach the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago is in the heart of Chicago’s downtown – adjacent to Millennium Park and steps away from Lake Michigan.

Address Chicago Art Institute: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA. Get Directions.

The museum is well-connected with public transportation.

By Bus

Michigan and Monroe bus stop is just a one-minute walk away from the museum.

Adams and Wabash bus station is just a two-minute walk away.

State and Adams bus stop and Michigan & Van Buren/Congress bus stop are just a five-minute walk away from the Art Institute.

These Bus lines stop near the Art Institute Of Chicago: 1, 3,126, 143, 147, and 151.

By Train

Washington/Wabash subway station and the Jackson Red Line subway station are both a five-minute walk away

Van Buren suburban train station is just a four-minute walk away.

By Car

Put Google Maps on to navigate to the Chicago Art Institute.

Cars for rent and Taxis for hire are easily available in Chicago.

The Millennium Garage Underground parking is available under the parks right next to the Art Museum.

Other parking spots are also available in the vicinity.

Art Institute of Chicago timings

The Art Institute of Chicago opens at 11 am from Thursday to Monday.

It closes at 5 pm, except on Thursdays when it remains open till 8 pm.

The art museum remains closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Museum and its shops stay closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

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How long does it take?

If you love art and prefer to get into the details, you will need three to four hours to explore what’s on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Some visitors are known to complete their tour in just 60 minutes, and some even extend it to six hours.

Tourists who have been to many art museums say that art fatigue sets in after approximately 2 hours of roaming around.

If you plan to stay longer, we recommend regular visits to the restaurants/cafés to recharge yourself.

Best time to visit the art museum

Visiting Art Institute of Chicago
Image: Artic.edu

If you prefer to walk and explore the artworks in peace, the best time to visit the Art Institute of Chicago is between 12 pm and 3 pm.

However, the Art Institute of Chicago is so massive that it can accommodate many people without making it feel crowded.

You don’t have to select a timeslot when you book your Art Institute of Chicago tickets. 

This means you have the flexibility of visiting the art museum anytime during its opening hours. 

Remember to buy tickets online in advance so that you don’t waste time in the ticket counter lines.

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What to see in Chicago Art Museum

Visitors look at painting in Chicago Art Institute
Image: Artic.edu

The exhibits at this Museum can be broadly categorized as paintings & other artworks.

Most famous paintings

The Museum’s walls are lined with art from around the world.

Each painting is equally enchanting and captures the attention of the visitors.

However, if one must identify the best of the lot, here is our recommendation –

1. A Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat is the perfect example of ‘little dots making a mighty artwork.’

This large painting uses the pointillist technique to depict a casual scene of the French riverside.

2. Nighthawks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper is one of the most recognizable paintings of the 20th century.

The painting shows an all-night diner with customers and employees in a secluded setting of NYC.

3. The Bedroom

The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh
This Vincent Van Gogh masterpiece can be found in Gallery 241 of the Chicago Art Museum.

Vincent Van Gogh painted three versions of The Bedroom, which is a colorful representation of his life.

The original is housed in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

4. American Gothic

American Gothic by Grant Wood represents the shift from farming to industrialization in America in the 1930s.

The painting depicts an expressive farmer standing beside his daughter.

5. Child’s Bath

Child’s bath by Mary Cassatt is a three-dimensional painting that shows an adult giving a bath to a child. 

This painting was made at the end of the 19th century, making her the only American artist in the exhibition of French Impressionists.

6. Water Lilies

The Art Institute of Chicago holds a special delegation of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series.

These 250 paintings were completed in the last 30 years of his life. 

The range depicts exquisite flowers from his French home.

Other must-see artworks

Besides the paintings, you must not miss many other masterpieces during your visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.

We list a few –

1. The Thorne Miniature Rooms

Thorne Miniature Rooms are tiny dollhouses built with a lot of detail by the finest craftsmen in the world.

Kids are left awestruck with this reproduction of 17th and 20th-century palaces, cathedrals, and residences.

Watch this video to know more –

2. The Modern Wing

The most recent addition to the museum is an outstanding example of architecture.

The European Modernism gallery holds artworks by Picasso, Dali, and many more with rotating film exhibits.

American Windows

American Windows by Marc Chagall is blue-tinted and has a history of leaving the visitors speechless.

It was recently restored to its original glory.

Field armor for man and horse

Artisans in Nuremberg, Germany, produced the ‘Field armor for man and horse’ in the 16th century.

The dynamic action form of this piece of art skillfully forged of steel has wowed one and all.

Buddha Shakyamuni

Buddha Shakyamuni statue seated in meditation comes from a South Indian town, Nagapattinam, and dates to the 12th century.

Buddha is seated in a lotus posture with a calming face. You can also spot the mark on his forehead called ‘urna.’

What to see in one hour

If you are in a hurry, it is possible to explore the Museum’s masterpieces in only one hour.

Here are the exhibits you can see within 60 minutes.

Exhibit’s Name Gallery No Floor
Ando Gallery 109 1st
El Greco’s The Assumption of the Virgin 211 2nd
Armor for Man and Horse 239 2nd
Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884 240 2nd
Claude Monet’s Stacks of Wheat 243 2nd
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky above Clouds IV 249 2nd
Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks 262 2nd
Archibald John Motley, Jr.’s Nightlife 263 2nd
Marc Chagall’s America Windows 144 1st
Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist 391 3rd
Joan Mitchell’s City Landscape 291 2nd
Andy Warhol’s Liz #3 296 2nd

If you get in through the Michigan Avenue entrance, start at the top and finish at the bottom.

And if you get in through the Modern Wing entrance, you must start at the bottom and work backward.

Art Institute of Chicago free day

Guided tour of Art Institute of Chicago
Image: Artic.edu

If you are an Illinois resident, the best time for you to visit is Wednesday, between 5 pm to 8 pm.

Every week, for these three hours, locals can get in without buying any admission tickets.

However, they must display a valid resident ID proof at the entrance.

If you do not have an ID card issued by the State, you can bring along your lease agreement, bill, or mail that shows your name and has your Illinois address.

While Illinois residents enjoy their free day on Wednesday, some visitors can enter for free throughout the year.

Kids under 14

Children under fourteen years of age can enter for free daily.

Is it always free for local teens?

Local teenagers (aged 14 to 17 years) needn’t buy a ticket as long as they can present valid ID proof at the entrance.

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Star painters at the Art Institute

The Art Institute of Chicago is full of paintings from renowned artists worldwide and across different eras.

However, paintings by two painters – Van Gogh and Claude Monet – got a lot of attention from visitors.

Van Gogh

There is a total of 17 artworks by Van Gogh displayed in the museum.

The most important being –

1.    The Bedroom (1889)
2.    Self-Portrait (1887)
3.    The Poet’s Garden (1888)
4.    Madame Roulin Rocking the Cradle (1889)
5.    The Drinkers (1890)

Claude Monet

There is a total of 46 artworks by Claude Monet presented Art Institute of Chicago.

His top five crowd-pullers are –

1.    Stacks of Wheat (189/91)
2.    Water Lilies (1906)
3.    Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877)
4.    The Beach at Saints- Adresse (1867)
5.   Cliff Walk at Pourville (1882)

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Art Institute of Chicago map

At the Art Institute of Chicago, exhibits are spread over a total floor space of one million square feet.

For a first-time visitor, its sheer size can be overwhelming.

That’s why we recommend carrying a museum map with you while you roam around.

Besides helping you find the masterpieces, this map can also help you find visitor services such as restrooms, cafes, escalators, Museum shops, ramps, etc.

Bookmark this page to get back later from your mobile, or download the map.

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Museum’s mobile application

If you don’t want to spend money on the Museum’s audio guide, the next best option is to download their mobile app.

The app uses location-aware technology with audio storytelling, and it seems as if the art itself is speaking to you. 

Here is how the mobile application works:

The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.

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Art Institute of Chicago entrances

The Art Institute of Chicago is made up of two buildings – the Michigan Avenue Building and the Modern Wing, and a bridge connects both.

Michigan Avenue Building was built in 1893, while the Modern Wing was added in 2009.

You can choose to enter the Museum from either of the entrances.

Here is a layout that explains these two buildings and what to expect in each.

Art Institute of Chicago layout
Courtesy: Artic.edu

Michigan Avenue Entrance

Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60603.

Directions to Michigan Avenue Entrance

Modern Wing Entrance

Address: 159 East Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603

Directions to Modern Wing Entrance

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Restaurants at the Art Institute

If you plan to stay longer at the Art Museum, you must recharge yourself at regular intervals.

The Art Museum has three unique places to eat.

Museum Café

It is open daily from 11 am to 4 pm.

From Wednesday to Friday, the Museum Cafe stays open from 5 pm to 7.30 pm.

Terzo Piano

Serves lunch from 11 am to 3 pm daily.

On Thursday you can get dinner too, from 5 pm to 8 pm.

The place also offers Sunday brunches from 11 am to 3 pm.

Balcony Café

The café opens daily from 10:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to accommodate the extra crowd, it stays open till 7 pm.

Restaurants near Art Institute of Chicago

If you want a quick eat, head out to Roti Mediterranean Grill, The Fat Shallot or Le Pain Quotidien.

It is natural to expect bang for the buck when you are traveling with a big family or group.

In such a case, we recommend the value for money restaurants near Art Institute of Chicago such as Goddess and The Baker, Oasis Café or Shake Shack.

For a comfortable sit-down-and-eat experience after all the walking, check out Brightwok Kitchen, Italian Village, or Revival Foodhall.


# Artic.edu
# In.hotels.com
# Tripadvisor.com
# Wikipedia.org

The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

2 thoughts on “Art Institute of Chicago – tickets, what to expect, timings, what to see”

  1. Hello! I’ve been out of Chicago for some time but absolutely remember and love the painting in featured at the beginning of your article. What is its title? I think I remember that they are unsure of the painter. I’ve been looking for the name for an hour! Thank you!


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